tv Charlie Rose WHUT February 14, 2012 3:00am-4:00am EST
>> rose: welcome to our program. we begin this evening with the commissioner of the new york police department, ray kelly. >> so if you talk about legacy, this city has come so far from what we were faced with on january 1st of 2002. it is much safer. the feeling of safety is there, our department, police department is much more diverse. we have add add tremendous amount of technology andxd capability. i would submit to you that, and i have been around the department a long type, that our relationship with the many, many communities in new york, the most diverse in any world are better now than they have ever been. >> rose: we conclude this evening with the appreciation of
whitney houston, who died in los angeles at age 48, joining me, can dab yen snim of billboard and jon pareles of "the new york times". >> when you heard her sing you went over there to turn up the volume, when her song came on the radio you stay in the car after you park until she finished. i mean, all you have to do is look at the star-spangled banner, super bowl 25, i have never seen that sung more nonchalantly, yet more perfectly, with more pride in self, more pride in country, i mean, she ruined it for pretty much anybody else. >> she had one of the great instruments in my lifetime, probably in history. she was a stradivarius, she was pure, she was strong, and i am talking about her voice, and she was -- she had finesse and power and when you saw her live you heard the church in her, but you
>> rose: additional funding provided by these funder. >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia, news and information services worldwide. >> from our studios in new york captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: ray kelly is here, he is new york city's longest serving commissioner of the police. he first served under mayor den kins in the early 1990s mayor bloomberg appointed him in 2002, he held, under his command the city sustained a downward trend in crime and reached historic lows, his response to the world center attacks is a counter-terrorism bureau and one of the largest anti-terrorism
places in the united states. following allegations of racial profiling i am pleased to have commissioner kelly at this table and begin by saying this, that i have lived in this city for 20 year and i have known mayors and known police commissioners, it is part of the job of doing interviews here, so in the interest of full disclosure, he is a friend of mine and i welcome this opportunity to talk to him at this time, because there have been a recent series of articles that have talked about the commissioner and the tenure of his service and i am pleased to give him an opportunity to talk about some of the same issues. so welcome. >> great to be with you, charlie, thank you. >> rose: tell me how you see this. i mean there has been some conversation about you and new york times, new york magazine and other places saying that perhaps 11 and a half years is enough, and that the commissioner has become authoritarian, that the commissioner has become a changed man, albeit they both say this and i read now from the new york magazine piece.
ray kelly, has been a great police commissioner, programs the city's greatest, and this from "the new york times", kelly five, run the city longer than any other commission her, almost everything about him -- many inside and outside the force wonder the pileup of scandals and thorn tarian, authoritarian use of power have diminished his effectiveness. >> you have to look at the job anybody is doing to determine whether or not they should move on. i see myself in good health, i have tried to keep fit. i think good things are happening, crime is down to record lows. we haven't had a terrorist attack here in new york city, the department is mult multimore diverse than it has ever been. in fact the police officer rank became majority minority in 2006, and we continue that, and
it is something we are very proud of. so i think a lot of good things have happened and continue to happen in the department, and of course, i report to mayor bloomberg and it is a decision for the mayor as to whether or not i should remain as police commissioner, but i am with the job that i have done and the job that continues to be done, and i will continue as long as i am able. >> rose: let's go through some of the specifics. with respect to the film, you have said that you should not have appeared in that film and it should not have been seen, correct? this is the anti-muslim film. >> yeah. we are a big organization, what happened there was there was training going on. actually, technical training, we call it covert training, how to use certain detection devices that sort of thing. in and out of the room for that training someone well intentioned, a sergeant, took this film and put it on sort of as a background. it wasn't meant as a training
vehicle. it wasn't approved to be a training film, but it was shown. now, apparently, an officer, a muslim officer objected to it, and it was taken down. what we believe at the time that it was shown, or exposed you might say to a relatively few people, and to a request it turned out that passing through that room for about 1,100 police officers, so we put that out, and then there was a bit of an uproar because we said a small number of officers and it was obviously 1,100 was more than we thought. the other issue was whether or not -- i did appear in the film, i hadn't seen the film until a couple of weeks ago, i appeared in the film, and i was asked to do an interview by someone who had great bona fides and worked for nbc, and on the film, for
about 182nds, so, really, it is not a monumental appearance by me. and i had forgotten about it quite frankly and to this day i don't remember doing that, and that's what you do in this job. you just do a lot of interviews, so the word was initially put out that it was a film clip of me rather than -- >> rose:. >> when in fact an interview. so we tried to correct that. that is the sum and substance of what the issues are. >> rose: let's stay with the anti-terrorism unit. since 9/11, which had a profound impact upon you, on the city, there have been no obviously successful attacks on new york city. do you believe that is part and parcel of what the new york nypd has done and the kinds of practices that you have initiated? >> sure. i think we are an integral part of that. new york is the top terrorist
target in this country. no question about it. terrorism is theatre, new york is the biggest stage that there is. we have had 14 attempts, plots against the city since september 11th of 2001, and through a combination of good work by and with our federal partners, good work by new york city police officers, and luck we have not been attacked. they have not been successful. but that is as a result, i think of our increased vigilance and a lot of things that we have done to protect the city and i think that is pretty much the consensus of the intelligence community, one, that we are the number one target and 2, that we have done an awful lot to deter, dissuade, prevent terrorist attacks. >> rose: there is also the question of surveillance, and surveillance of groups that are engaged in perfectly constitutionally protected
activities. for example, university groups that are muslim groups. is there surveillance of those kind of groups that caused the muslim community to say, this is going too far? >> well, it is not surveillance, but what we will do is follow specific leads, in other words, an indication of perhaps unlawful activity, we will follow that lead, we may follow that lead with an undercover person but we can also gather information. now, this may be too much information, but there is a decree called a hand shoe the deck, that actually started, it was litigation against new york city against the police department in the late sixties, 1985, new york city police department signed a consent decree that greatly limited our ability to monitor quote political activity.
very, very restrictive, in 2002, we moved through the monitor, who is judge height here in the southern district of new york to lessen those restrictions and indeed that is what he did. so we are authorized to gather a lot of information. we don't have to wait for an attack to happen. we don't have to wait for imminent harm to appear to be coming our way before we can gather this sort of information. so we are doing a lot of things to protect the city. things that i believe and the mayor believes are necessary to protect the number one target but i must stress that we are doing it pursuant to the constitution. we have a cadre of first-rate lawyers that examine what we do. >> rose: covert activity -- >> absolutely. and our chief counsel is, in fact, nyu law professor, full time at the police department,
but for 20 something quleerz teaching at nyu law school and a cadre of other first-rate attorneys, former assistant u.s. attorneys who look, monitor what we do. obviously, we live in the mostly at this juice environmentally tijs you environment so we have to be cognizant of what we do, we have to check .. we have to make certain what we are doing is within constitutional bounds about that is precisely what we are doing. >> rose: so anyone suggests it is not constitutional what the nypg is doing with respect to muslim groups is in your judgment and the judgment of those people who advise you is just wrong? >> yes. that is absolutely correct. we adhere to the constitution, meticulously, because we know that what we are doing is being observed. we not that there are lots of groups that, you know, they sue us on a regular basis, certainly the mayor is the number one defendant in this city, every day papers are coming in about
something. so we have to be aware. we have to be cautious and we are. >> rose:. >> we have 50,000 employees, and if you take that number of people, if you pay them relatively modest salaries and give them a lot of power you are going to have some of those people who in will violate their oath of office, their public trust. if you had only one percent of those folks doing something wrong, that would be 500 people. so we are a big organization. we have to accept as a given that there will be or there may be some level of corruption. we are very proactive in that regard. our internal affairs division does very good work. the so-called picket fixing case, ticket fixing days was discovered by them. >> rose: by the internal affairs? >> by internal affairs. i have increased their staffing through the years by over 100 people, increased their budget by $25 million. but the reality is that in an organization this size, you,
unfortunately, are probably always going t to to have some level of untoward behavior. >> rose: have there been any indictments in the ticket fix something. >> yes, there have been people that have been arrested, and cases being handled in the bronx and it is moving forward now. >> the second thing is smuggling of illegal guns. >> this was a sting operation set up by the fbi. the officer, the prime mover, you might say, a 19 year veteran. he brought other officers in to this plot. he has just pleaded guilty in the last -- last week. and others will most likely follow. it is unfortunate. it is a terrible incident. they -- an undercover person working for the fbi made this
proposition to this officer. he went along with it, no question about it, and he brought in other officers, and they are all under indictment. >> rose: as you say, a cluster of things, occupy wall street, the question of the pepper spray and whether it was used excessively. >> yes. well, you know, we have -- we did an administration of that. we disciplined the deputy inspector involved, but this is, this has become a contact sport policing these demonstrations. there are people there who are trying to instigate, you know, contact with the police. they know this photo ops are great and sometimes police officers will react. most of the things that they try to get the police officers to do, the vast majority they don't do. they don't react. but after a while, i if you are pushed or shoved you can be
goaded into inappropriate reactions. we know that. that is a fact of life .. i think overall the occupy wall street demonstrations have been policed pretty well but we have had some mistakes, some excesses on the part of our officers, and we have disciplined them appropriately and accordingly. >> rose: and then there is one that offends people in minority community they think an excessive use of stop and frisk. >> yes. that is an important issue, and we understand that people tend to be upset with their stop for not doing anything, in their mind. >> rose: do you agree? -- >> you need a level of reasonable suspicion in order to stop someone. what this is -- this is a big city, everything is bigger here. we have 23 million contacts a year between the police and citizens, and we have -- a thousand or so stops. i think they are being measured and recorded more accurately
than ever before. i think it is a life saving measure, and let me give you two numbers. this is part of the tactics and strategies that we use to keep this city as safe as we can. we are down 6,000 police officers than where we were a decade ago. this is in the immediateñi aftermath of 9/11. we went down 6,000 officers. yet in the ten years prior to mayor bloomberg taking office, we had 11,000 and 58 murders during that decade n the decade of mayor bloomberg's being in charge of the city, we have had 5,430 murders. that is a dramatic reduction, over 50 percent reduction. new yorkers by far are the safest big city in america. i think it is because of the, even though we are down 6,000
officers, the proactive strategies and tactics and approaches that we use. so, yes, stop and question sometimes frisked by the way and less than half of the incidents where people are stopped is there a frisk and only nine percent is there a full-blown search. each year we recover approximately 8,000 weapons in the -- in this process. i think it is integral to keeping this city safe. so -- >> rose: in an effort to take guns off the street? >> absolutely. and those lives that we save, for instance, if you look at the shooting victims in this city, 96 percent of them are people of color, black or hispanic. and most of the murders -- out of that universe of 5,600 saved lives you might say the vast majority of those lives saved based on history i would say, are people of color.
so -- and people in these communities appreciate it. if not -- it is not a universal human cry. i go out and a lot of community groups and people are happy with what we are doing. their communities are much safer. i was in in a black church yesterday, and people appreciate what the department is doing to help make their communities much safer than they have been in the past. >> rose: how do you think you are misunderstood in terms of the roll of being police commissioner, the longest serving police commissioner in history? now 11 and 11 and a f years? >> i don't know there is a misunderstanding. you know, again, you look at the results. you say, well, you are too controlling or whatever. what other citizens, what are citizens concerned about? they are concerned about their safety and a feeling of safety, and you have been here for 20 years. i don't want to ask you this question but i ask you a rhetorical question, don't you feel safer in this city? isn't
this city have the feel about it that is safer than it has ever been before? people appreciate that, and that really is the bottom line. we are at record lows in crime and have not had a terrorist attack in this past decade, the bloomberg decade. unlike the three decades before, in each of those decades we have had terrorist attacks in this city. we haven't had one in the last decade. that's what people are concerned about. and also i think people of color are concerned about opportunities in the police department. we have, as i said before, made the police officer rank majority minority, i have promoted more minorities than any other police commissioner and i have been around longer so i have had the opportunity to do it, but there is, i think, broad representation of all minorities in the police department. >> rose: let me turn this around, in another direction too. so having been here 11 and a half years, what do you think the most important things you
have learned during the bloomberg administration now in its third term? about the police work? because you have served, your life except for one interim, mostly in the new york city police department having come back from vietnam and great service to your country there, have been here first under mayor denkins .. and then after mayor giuliani came back to be police commissioner, how d how do you e this as different, if you do in terms of what you have learned about being a police commissioner in these demanding times, cheerily not 9/11 is a central point. >> the work has changed dramatically, and one of the big changes is the availability and the use of technology. we now have more information than we have ever had before, we are able to disseminate that information at a more effectively and i think we are doing smarter policing, if you
will, and that is as a result of being able to gather information and distribute that. >> rose: didn't that begin under mayor den kins or not? >> i don't know when it began, but we put in a real-time crime center, didn't exist anywhere else in policing and what is real-time crime center? it is a data warehouse that we have constructed and put a lot of information in. and on top of it, i, is a 24-hoa day, seven-day a week operation, experienced detectives pushing information out to detectives in the field, now we used to say when this administration came on board, that we were the biggest users of carbon paper and whiteout. this is ten years ago, this is not ancient history. we have changed that and we went from 6,000 computers in the department to over 20,000 computers. we went to, you know, having all sorts of handheld devices -- i
would like to have a lot more, but we are distributing information like we have never have before so there is more information in the hands of patrol officers, more information in the hands of our investigators, certainly more information in the hands of our counter-terrorism folks. that's what it is all about. that is one of the main reasons crime is down, because we are using technology effectively and we will continue to use it. >> rose: with the extraordinary success of bringing crime down, is there a limit as to -- i mean crime will always be with us. i mean is there a limit as to how much you can bring crime down? >> probably. but i don't think we accept that. i think as a public policy decision you have to continue to suppress it because, you know, one crime is one too many, particularly if you are the victim and certainly one murder is one too many. so we are going to continue to use the policies and strategies that have worked for us, and continue to make this city safer. be. >> rose: but at the same time we all look at the numbers.
does there creep in, even in some new yorkn't mr. a sense of i have got to get the numbers. i have got to get the number of arrests. i have to get sure we look good on paper? is that a factor you can live with? >> i think you need a matrix in any business. you need it in your business. you center i will have to measure things so i think, you know, measure. is a fact of life. >> rose: but doesñi using matrix? how influence conduct and behavior? >> i hope not, and i would certainly try to guard against that, but, you know, i don't think it does and it certainly shouldn't, but clearly you need measurements, clearly you need goals, everybody does, you know, the idea that you tell your boss what you want to do, doesn't work anywhere. >> rose: quotas are the kind of thing -- >> yeah, i mean, you know, semantics, perhaps, but clearly, we need goals. we pay police officers, every police officer on the street, of
course, taxpayers with fringes over $100,000 a year, at least, so we need certain goals, we need certain measurements so that the city moves forward, that we feel we are getting our money's worth out of these -- all of our employees. >> rose: speaking of money's worth, do you have the budget to do the job that you think is guess for the nypd to do? >> we always like more, as i say we are down 6,000 officers, we are never going to go appreciably above the number we are now. you know, i if you look down the road several years down the road there are not going to be anymore money, so we are going to have to make due with what we have, and that's why we look to the federal government to help us with technology, with grants, but would we like more personnel? of course, everybody would. >> rose: do you accept the decision of micromanagement management and it might fit you? >> no you can't micromanage
50,000 people, you pay attention to some issues more than others, you know, which you have to do in this day and anal, so, you know, it is not a good thing or a bad thing, micromanagement, it is what gets the job done. i am pretty much immersed in this job,. >> rose: a vacation -- >> it has been a while ago. >> rose: but why? >> i enjoy what i do. >> rose: you can take a i have case. >> i do, i take long weekends, sure. yeah, i am like you. >> rose: this is the pot calling the kettle black or whatever the expression is about that. but at the same time, give us a sense of where you think, you know, in terms of you as police commissioner, and the idea of the message you want to send to 50,000 plus new york police members of the new york police department in terms of your own vision of where we are going and what we want to accomplish? >> oh. what we want to do is continue
to keep the city safe and to make it even safer, we want to use technology, we just had a conference nypd 20-20, where we are looking down the road. >> to 20, 20, yes. >> to see what we can do in terms of developing strategy, tactics, to help us programs better train our people, better train our supervisors our future leaders, to see what technology is down the pike. we even, one of the stories that came out is that we are looking at technology, it is called terror hurts technology, where we wouldn't have to necessarily stop and actually put hand on people initially, if we were able to use devices that we are working on, we have been working on for a couple of years to programs spot weapons, that is the type of forward thinking that we are engaged in.
we have a lot of smart people and very i am very impressed with the police officers that we have hired in the last several years, which by the way i think interesting to point out in the last six police academy classes, just to kind of underscore our diversity, we have had police recruits born in 50 or more countries in each class, which i think says a lot about our diversity and our efforts to diversify and it is the most diverse city in the world, but in terms of looking down the road, we have been successful, we want to continue to be successful in the area of protecting the city from terrorism, from crime, certainly violent crime, in a new york 20 years ago was the most violent city in america, we had 1990 we had 2,245 murders. we had a population of 7.3 million people. we now have a population of close to 8.4 million people with
500 murders. that is a tremendous reduction. we are going to continue the things that we are doing to help keep this city safe and we are going to hopefully do it using technology, the latest in technology, we need the help of the federal government, and, in that regard and they have been good. and they have been helpful. you know, there is never enough, we know that and always want more but the federal government has helped us in that regard. so i am optimistic about the future of this city, i am optimistic about the future of the police department. >> rose: do you want to be mayor? >> i want to be police commissioner for a while. mayor is a tough job. >> rose: and would you look like to be reappointed by the next mayor? >> i am not thinking of my future. >> rose: -- 100 percent support of the mayor. >> you have had 100 percent support of the mayor. >> absolutely. he has been super to work for. >> rose: but you haven't closed the door for running on
mayor? you simply haven't that thought about it? >> i have no plans to run for elected office. >> rose: what would you think at this point will be your legacy? >> >> rose: the things of the past -- >> many of the things that we have spoken about, i think you have to go back to late 2001, early 2002 when the mayor took office, if you read the newspapers or listened to the pundits the world was going to hell in a hand basket, crime was going to go up, that was a given. it is just a question of how much it was going to go up. we are going to have another terrorist attack, it was imminent, no question about it, the budget was in disarray because of 9/11, the internet bubble burst just before that so things were very bad. no question about it. and, you know, things are only going to get worse. well you look at the job that the mayor has done, and i certainly would like to think that i helped in that regard, so if you talk about legacy, this
city has come so far from what we were faced with on january 1st of 2002, it is much safer, the feeling of safety is there, our department, police department is much more diverse. we have added a tremendous amount of technology and capability. i would submit to you that -- and i have been around the department for a long time, that our relationship with the many, many communities in new york, the most diverse in the world are better now than they have ever been. do we have tension someplace? sure, because of what we do. we are using deadly force with the bearest of bad news, we give someone -- we use, you know, force and we receive complaints, that is what happens in policing. it is not like virtually any
other civil service, any other service that government gives. firefighters are terrific, we have the best in the world here, but they only do good things with people. we have the -- you know, the challenge to try to work with the -- with this most complex city and i would submit toñi you that our relationships are stronger now than they have. >> >> ever been. >> how have you done that? >> we have done it, oh, well, certainly our commanders in the field have done a terrific job. they know that they are watched for their ability to interact, to get along with the communities, throughout the city, i think i sishtdly, certainly go out and meet with community groups, many mosques i am in, churches and our command dores that as well. but i think we have done it because it has been a focus, it has been high on our agenda when
we started out in this administration we said we have 3 cs counter terrorism, protect the city from another terrorist attack, crime, crime suppression, continue to move it in the right direction. and the community relations, dealing with this most diverse city in the world. and i think we have done a very good job, in all three of those areas. there is still much more work to be done. >> rose: you have said the new york police department is like running a business, a big business. >> yes. >> rose: you have made that point. >> yes. >> rose: in most big businesses you take up and coming executives and put them in different places, overseas, you put them them in running sales, and research and a whole iteration of things, does new york police department do that, constantly making sure that people are coming up the ranks have the most disrair rid experience in different neighborhoods, different responsibilities so that not just in one place for most of their career? >> oh, that is true, sure. absolutely. our commanders are generally speaking in an area two to three
years and they will move to another gentleman graphical area. they will move up in rank with different responsibilities. you know, many of our executives have gone to harvard, the exec derivative training class we have in harvard. we have our own management training program with columbia graduate school of business. it is called the police management institute, and many of our leaders have gone through that program. so, yes, we try to move our commanders around as much as possible. there is -- you know, there is an age limit, but people are not getting out as they did in the past. they are staying to -- the theye reached that age for the most part and that's fine. we have -- we value experience, in this business experience means a lot. because we are in the emergency
management business. we are always going to have crises every day. we have people who are injured, people who are shot, it is a business unlike any other business in the -- in the challenges we have to deal with on a daily basis, and our managers get used to that, and that's why experience counts. >> rose: is the perception of what a police officer does changing, for example? we used to think that the ideal police officer was the man on the block, or the woman on the block who you could see, in thea pres. is that still the ideal or has the changing of time changed that in relationship, in a relationship between the police and the neighborhood? >> well, i think that is the ideal but it is just simply way too expensiveñr to do business like that. we don't have enough police
officers to have one on every block. you know, years ago, there was no overtime, you know, officers worked long tours, the 911 wasn't in existence, we have a tremendous demand for service. we have 12 million calls a year to our 911 system. we have to respond to those, that translates to about 4 million responses a year. you simply can't do that with a foot patrol. >> rose: but what you do, do because you have seen this in neighborhoods you will see cars parked and someone in the car you have a heightened sense of the presence of the police at specific places. >> right. >> rose: you want them to know to signal to anybody that the police may be watching. >> well, we have, for instance, a lot of cameras. we have installed thousands of cameras throughout the city and nypd on those cameras, we do have what we call critical response vehicles where they will move around and be a force,
be a presence, in particular areas, particular neighborhoods, and this is at a time when we, as i say, are down 6,000 officers. so we want to show that movement. we want to show that presence in critical locations, locations that we think are going to impact on safety. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thanks for having me. >> rose: ray kelly, commissioner of nypd here in new york city. back in a moment. >> we conclude this evening with reflunk shuns on whitney houston. she was widely considered one of the great pop vocalists in american music. she died on saturday in beverly hills, she was only 48, and her, in her lifetime she sold more than 140 million albums and won six grammy awards, whitney houston was born in newark, new jersey to a gifted musical family, her mother was a gospel cindy her god mother was a rethat franklin and one of her
cousins is dion warwick, her music producer discovered herself titled debut album sold more than 5 million copies, her popularity skyrocketed in the eighties and 90s with such hits as i will always love you, i want to dance with somebody, and greatest love of all. she also starred with kevin costner in the movie the body guard despite her enormous success she struggled with drug addiction and the multis you marriage to bobby brown and her death stunned the music industry before the grammy, the grammies were a bittersweet reminder of the mark she made on music, synthesizing pop and soul, from mariah carey to. chief pop music critic of "the new york times" i am pleased to have both of them here, jon pareles. tell me with a sense of music and history about her.
and her talent. and her voice. >> well, sh she had one of the great instruments in my lifetime, probably in history, she was a stradivarius, she was pure, she was strong, and i am talking about her voice, and she was -- she had finesse and she had power and when you saw her live, you heard the church in her, and you also heard the clarity of pop in her, and that combination was what made her so appealing worldwide. >> rose: and that was a journey she made? >> yes. >> from gospel to pop. >> yes. >> rose: what would you say more about her as a singer? >> she makes me emotional. i think sheçó made everyone emotional. i think that she -- and maybe it is who she was. she had so much inside of her. i think she was obviously probably a lot more tortured than we knew and even with that clarity of the pop, i think you
felt some of that and i think it was difficult to not be seduced by it. >$!% sp &cd0>> rose:: meaning what? >> meaning that when you heard her sing, you went over there to turn up the volume. when her song came on the radio, you stayed in the car after you parked until she finished. i mean, all you have to do is look at the star-spangled banner, super bowl 25. i have never seen that sung more nonthat clantly, with more pride in self, pride in country, i mean, she ruined it for pretty much anybody else. >> rose: well said, well said. tony bennett said probably the greatest singer i have ever heard, and he heard sinatra and a lot of people. >> i mean, i have heard a lot of people, i know you have. i mean, she just -- did she make it look effortless.
>> she always made it look effortless. >> what was it about her? >> but she also had, there was also soul behind it because you have people who can be huge and powerful, and all you feel is the technique, and when whitney houston was on, you didn't feel any technique, you felt that someone was like raising the rafters and going right to the heart of the song. >> rose: on her web site, i like, i like every singer wanted to be just like her, her voice was perfect, strong but soothing, soulful and classic, her cadence, her control, so many of my life memories are attached to whitney houston song, she is our queen and she opened the doors and provided a blueprint for all of us. meaning her music. >> it is interesting that beyonce is talking about her control and her cadence, beyonce is also thinking what a great technical gift she had. and beyonce as a singer is listening to it whitney shape
every note and when you go back and you look at some of the -- to me the performances, live performances are instantly better than the albums and the albums are amazing, but the live performances where she would just like come into a song, and tear into it and then make it quiet and then carry it over the top and she would do it differently each time, she was a neutralizer, you always felt that she was hearing the song in her head and thinking it in her heart and this amazing instrument was carrying it out. >> rose: was there some of billy holiday in her? >> i think in more ways that -- i think in more ways than one. i think just listening to her music over the last few days, maybe i am making it up halfway, but i just hear more blues, more ache econominess in her, achiness in her delivery than i have in a while, i think it was there all around .. but she has such a present and so
charismatic and her hair and long form neck and just the gowns and -- >> rose: and the pure beauty. >> oh, my god, yes. so it was a little harder to see those -- >> rose: but most of the stuff she she did in the eighties were love songs, weren't they? >> oh, yes. >> rose: they were about love, not about pain. >> no, no they weren't. she wanted to dance with somebody. she wanted to -- >> she was also the greatest love of all. very early in her career he is speaking out about holding on to diagnosis any at this over everything, i mean, that is an early, early stopping and that was one of the things that she kept singing about throughout her career as well as love. >> rose: as you wonder, you wonder how far she could have gone having the instrument she had, how much she could have added to what she had before she got married. >> absolutely. i mean, people grow up, see her
age and her voice changes and they get rougher and lower so maybe she wouldn't have had those way up there soprano notes in her fifties, but the way she knew how to wring the emotion out of a phrase, i mean, it would have been close to billy holiday, because billy holiday had a voice that was technically less adept and instant, infinitely more emotional when she got older. >> she might have become that. she ranged over how many octaves? >> oh, my goodness. >> she had three octaves, that is crazy which is a lot. >> rose: singers tell you that? >> yes. >> what else did they tell you? is this when you were writing this bees and wanted to get a sense of her from other singers? >> well, actually, it was research rather than stingers but stingers, singers went and ah and clocked her albums and pound the highest and lowest note she sang.
>> rose: over three octaves? >> over three octaves, she could go low and into the low and sultry range and going into the crazy high notes she does and i want to dance with somebody. yes, she was an amazing lady, absolutely. i was coming down and met her the ones for a story way back in 95 and we spent the afternoon together, and she, she was just a sweet girl and caught her on a tough day and still a sweet girl and she walked me through her home and we looked at her, you know, seems like all popstars have the room, with the gold records and the grammys and she had a lot of them, played never of football in her living, neuroof football in the living room, we had tea and talked about guys and lena horn, who she said she just .. talk about be talk about beyonce.
>> rose: she thought of -- >> thought of her as the queen, the queen. to think of her 20 years from now, hot, at the amphitheater to go see her on a saturday night, maybe she is hitting those lows and not hitting the highs but maybe in there with only 700 people. thinking about today, i mean, it is just such a tragedy. >> rose: i was thinking about her today, you know, being in some kind of club where the lights were low and she was just sort of one light was on her, and she was just -- where were you when you heard? >> in a hotel room in hollywood, which doesn't sound great 2 it is true. but i was there and i actually saw it on twitter first, someone said tell me it is not true
about whitney, and i immediately went into uber work mode and found it and moved on it and got a call from my mom and sisters, super quickly thereafter. >> rose: it's her? >> yes my sisters, i am at billboard my sister calls me for the straight dope and she says, she was telling me that this is not true, danny and i said i am working, let me figure it out. let me -- i didn't want to say the ap is reporting it that it is true. >> rose: and what do you trace it to? is it just the burden of gift or is it something else? is it a woman who needed somebody in her life? >> you know, i can only imagine that -- i mean all of us are complex, all of us don't carry the gift that she had, and all of us aren't from sort of, no disrespect to newark, but we all
aren't from newark it can be a little rough and tumble sometimes, and she grew up in that, to the carnegie hall, madison square garden. >> rose: to star-spangled banner. >> star-spangled banner, super bowl, with the jet planes flying over you, and you are really representing for women, you are representing for african-americans, you are representing for pop music, you are emptying for american culture, and maybe at the end, what she really wanted was to have a cigarette and maybe wanted something else. >> rose: but she knew that people expected so much from her. >> i mean, we talk about -- i mean, we had her on a pedestal, all of us, we put her on a pedestal, yes. yeah, what beyonce said, she is the queen. i mean, $e was -- she justbrought everyo the stage, and she, man she wrapped you up in it and that is a responsibility. you come out there on that
stage, and everyone wants what they want. >> yes. and i mean, in a lot of the interviews, in the interviews she did, she would say, i really want to be normal, i want to have a normal life. >> yeah. >> and that was not an option for her. >> not forthcoming. >> she was too gifted, too famous. >> oh, yeah. >> she was too talented. >> there was nowhere she could go but the stage for that kind of love and acceptance and it is a sad day. >> rose: how much of this talent is born? and how much of it -- i mean, i am trying to get away are the straight nurture versus nature kind of thing but this is a gift. >> it is a gift. i mean, it is dna. >> rose: yes. >> i mean you have to have the vocal cords and you have to have the structure and you have to have those lungs and then you have to really, really work at it. >> rose: yeah. >> and then you can work at it all you want and if you don't have a heart behind it, all anybody is going to hear is technique,. >> rose: and the heart behind it. >> she had the heart behind it.
you could hear the -- you could hear the experience in her voice, even when she was young, when is amazing. which may be something you learn in a church, because you have a traditional to go back on but it was also something she just knew. >> she knew, she heard her mom stinging around the house i am sure. i mean, sh she is dion warwick s right there and aretha franklin is right there. >> rose: her god mother. >> with ellis records playing in the background and she just -- it was coming -- i don't know how she could not have become who she became and let's not be mistaken she wanted it. this wasn't foisted upon her. this she knew she was beautiful and she knew she was tall and she knew she had an amazing voice, and she had the right people introducing her to the right people and she was doing the right showcases. she was a strong and ambitious girl, she wanted it very badly. >> rose: well, the best always
do want it badly. >> yes, they do. >> rose: this is claude davis on this program talking about whitney houston. here it is. >> whitney houston is an incredible talent, putting a rethere franklin to one side because me is a national treasure of life, whitney houston is the best singer in the world today. if you ask any musician, if you ask baby face if you ask david foster, if you ask quincy jones, the absolute best sing never the world today is whitney houston. >> rose: what did she have? >> she has a combination, combination of soul and fire and lyric depth and stunning butte and an ability to caress a ballad and take the stage and have people dancing all over the world. it is very unique, and al althoh she doesn't get -- only recently, somebody like a robert hill burn in los angeles the reviewed her last concert and was so amazed by her talent that
he said, you know, i think i am reviewing the artist formerly known as whitney houston, whitney houston is electrifying. >> rose: boy, that was well said, wasn't it? >> i mean -- who better? >> rose: you could not have written that better. >> no. who better? who better? >> there is this too, though, when we think about this, and the tragedy of dying at 48 with all of this talent. people saw it coming, didn't you? >> she went on oprah and talked about what she was doing to herself, and what she had done to herself. my question always is two. number one, why couldn't somebody have made a difference couldn't somebody have helped? >> i think everybody is asking that. but, you know, i was also thinking about eta james, another great singer. >> rose: who died. >> and etta james went in and out of addiction and went in and out of all kinds of adversity and lived a good long life .. and she made it through all of
the same kind of terrible things that whitney houston probably succumbed to and you always have a feeling that with a voice this strong, with such an affirmative spirit in all of the music you heard you think she is going to make it through. you think that she is going to have the physical strength to get through the current problem. >> rose: and you know this much better than i do, to understand sisterhood, and there is a thing called sister hood. >> there is. >> rose: there is. you know she had some sister whose said to her, that -- that man is not good for you. >> oh. >> rose: that man is not good for you. >> well -- >> and sheçó would say, i guarantee you, you don't know what he means to me. you don't understand. you don't understand what he gives me. am i right or wrong? wrong? >> i can't speak speculate as to exactly what she said but i will say this.
she had a heart that we have talked about. right? it comes through in her singing. her heart wants what it wantsness isn't that what everybody says? it wants what it wants. that's what she wanted and who she wanted. i don't know why. i don't know how many interventions have been staged formal and informal, i don't know. i don't know what could have been said, i don't know if people's prayers -- i don't know. it is just -- if you are addicted to something, i don't know what could have been said. i don't know. it is breaking my heart, though. it is breaking -- it is breaking my heart. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you for having me. >> rose: when i think of whitney houston, i think mostly of talent, not tragedy, although certainly there was tragedy and much of it. many of us when asked what talent we might wish we had say the ability to sing.
whitney houston had one of the great voices of our time and we never know how to answer this question, what is your responsibility to your gift? how do you nourish it and cherish it? how do you give it wings to fly? programs only those with the gift can answer those questions, whitney houston had the gift. the programs only those with the gift can answer those questions. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org